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Presenting

Presenting

This pages suggests a four-stage process for preparing a presentation:

  1. Planning
  2. Preparing
  3. Practicing
  4. Presenting

Planning 

What? Why? Where?

Answer the following questions

  • Who is your audience?
  • Why are they there?
  • What is the subject of your speech?
  • What is the purpose of your speech?
  • How long will it be?
  • Where will it take place?
  • Will you use visual aids?

Simplicity

Simplicity is the key to a good presentation. Here are a few tips:

  • Focus on the most important points
  • Have one key message around which you base your presentation
  • Write down 3 things that you want the audience to take away with them

Develop an outline

The outline allows you to order your thoughts logically and establish a good structure for your presentation

Here are a few tips:

  • Don't open PowerPoint
  • Work in a form (e.g. pen & paper) that allows you be creative
  • Establish the key points that you will focus on
  • Work out your key message
  • Develop the logical flow of your presentation - the order your points will come in

Structure

Good presentations have an engaging beginning, a more detailed middle and a final summary ending.

Beginning

This includes a thesis statement or overview. Try to get the attention of the audience with an interesting fact, a question, something humorous or an eye-catching visual aid. The first few minutes are critical!

Middle

This part of your talk covers the main points (remember the Kiss principle, “Keep It Simple Stupid”). This is where you develop your position. Try to link your ideas coherently so the presentation flows and makes sense.

End

This is where you briefly sum up your talk by restating the main points and presenting your conclusions. Make sure to thank people and ask for comments/questions.

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Preparing 

Preparing your presentation is straightforward if you've planned your talk well and have a logical well-developed outline and structure. Nowadays, PowerPoint dominates presentations. Remember it is only a small element of your presentation. The following tips should help you in your preparation:

3 friends

Prepare 3 documents for your presentation:
Your notes which no else sees
Handouts with more detailed information & references
Visual aids (usually PowerPoint) that support your talk and help engage the audience.

Visual Aids

Make sure visual aids are clear, simple and uncluttered. If using overhead transparencies or slides, limit the text using as large a font as possible (30+). You can also use flipcharts, videos, displays, etc. Have back ups!

PowerPoint Tips

Keep text to a minimum - avoid full sentences, keep bullets to a minimum, use a sans-serif font ( like Arial or Helvetica) - serif fonts are harder for people to read on screens (e.g. Times New Roman). Use colour to focus people on the most important details. Use images to support your content.

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Acessibility

Prepare a presentation that welcomes everyone. You can ensure that your presentation is accessible to as many people as possible by following the guidelines in our section on accessibile PowerPoint presentations.

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Practicing 

Most people never practice delivering their presentation. It is essential. It gives you a chance to correct things you don’t like and it gives you confidence.

Preparation and practice are the best medicine for nerves:

  • Become familiar with the venue - practice there if possible.
  • Try imagining the room and giving the presentation in a successful way.
  • Use positive thoughts.
  • Know your material
  • Anticipate what might go wrong and prepare ahead, i.e. a glass of water in case your mouth goes dry.
  • Take a deep breath, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through your mouth to relieve tension – no one can see you do it!

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Presenting 

If you've followed the previous steps, then on the day you can focus on delivering your presentation in the most engaging way.

  • If possible check out the room to ensure everything works and you have an idea of the layout.
  • Make sure that you have a backup of your presentation by emailing it to yourself and having a copy on a memory stick
  • Try not to “read” your talk. Use cue cards to prompt your memory.
  • Use a conversational tone. Make sure you are speaking loud enough to be heard.
  • Be aware of your body language i.e. maintain eye contact. Face the audience and try smiling occasionally!
  • Try to be enthusiastic.
  • Make sure to pause between points, indicating to the audience a change and helps to slow down your pace.

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more about Presenting
icon Watch
Watch video on giving presentations

Watch video on giving presentations(SWF, 17MB).

Duration: 17 min

Watch our video workshop on presentations

Watch our videoworkshop on giving presentations

Duration: 25 min

icon Read

Giving Presentations Guide

This is a hands-on guide which takes you through the four stages of giving a presentation in a little more detail.

Download: Giving Presentations- (MS Word 147 kB)

icon Read

Giving Presentations Tips

This handout includes some tips on giving presentations.

Download: Giving Presentation Tips - (MS Word 113 kB)

icon Links

A free guide to preparing and delivering conference presentations

DRHEA's Presentation Guide

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Last updated 16 December 2015 by Student Learning Development (Email) .